This case involved a dispute between a service station owner and Mobil Oil of Guam. The plaintiff’s service station was built on sloped elevated land, so that Mobil’s tanker drivers had to park their trucks on an incline when delivering fuel. As a result, a small portion of the fuel would remain in the truck after each delivery. When the plaintiff discovered this problem, he sued Mobil for fraud and breach of contract, arguing that he had been overcharged for $50,000 for fuel over the course of four years. A jury awarded $50,000 in compensatory damages and $2.8 million in punitive damages.
Mobil retained Horvitz & Levy to prepare post-trial motions challenging the jury’s verdict, working alongside Mobil’s local counsel in Guam. The trial court agreed with our argument that the punitive damages award was excessive. The court reduced the award from $2.8 million to $150,000 and the plaintiff appealed that ruling directly to the Guam Supreme Court. Horvitz & Levy represented Mobil on appeal and presented oral argument in the Guam Supreme Court. That court, in its first opinion addressing the constitutionality of a punitive damages award, agreed that the jury’s award was excessive and affirmed the trial court’s ruling.